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Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group

japanese iraq reconstruction and support group
The Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group23 or also known as the Japan Self-Defense Forces Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group 自衛隊イラク復興支援群, Jietai Iraku Fukkou Shiengun refers to a battalion-sized, largely humanitarian contingent of the Japan Self-Defense Forces that was sent to Samawah, Southern Iraq in early January 2004 and withdrawn by late July 2006 However, the last JASDF forces left Kuwait on December 18, 2008

Their duties had included tasks such as water purification, reconstruction and reestablishment of public facilities for the Iraqi people4


  • 1 Background
  • 2 Significance
  • 3 Deployment
  • 4 Withdrawal
  • 5 Commanders
  • 6 Unit Deployments
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


The Koizumi administration originally ordered the controversial formation and deployment of the JIRSG at the request of the United States This marks a significant turning point in Japan's history, as it represents the first foreign deployment of Japanese troops since the end of World War II, excluding those deployments conducted under United Nations auspices Public opinion regarding the deployment was sharply divided, especially given that Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan prohibits the use of military forces unless for self-defence purposes operating in Iraq seemed, at best, tenuously connected to that mission

In order to legalize the deployment of Japanese forces in Samawah, the Koizumi administration legislated the Humanitarian Relief and Iraqi Reconstruction Special Measures Law on December 9, 2003 in the Diet, even though the opposition firmly opposed it

Two Japanese diplomats were shot and killed near Tikrit, Iraq on November 29, 2003 while preparations for the deployment were in their final stages5

In early April 2004, three Japanese- a journalist and two aid workers- were kidnapped, but they were released several days later on April 156 The following day, another two Japanese- an aid worker and a journalist- were kidnapped and released within 24 hours7 The kidnappers of the original three had threatened to burn the hostages alive if Japanese troops were not removed from Iraq within three days A spokeswoman for the Islamic Clerics Committee, which negotiated their release, said that growing public calls in Japan for the SDF troops to be withdrawn from Iraq led to the release of three Japanese

In a statement released on July 20, 2004, Al Zarqawi warned Japan, Poland and Bulgaria to withdraw their troops, demanding that the Japanese government: 'do what the Philippines has done', and threatening that: 'Lines of cars laden with explosives are awaiting you' if the demands were not met8

The body of a Japanese backpacker, Shosei Koda, was found in Baghdad on October 30, 2004, several days after he had been kidnapped His captors had promised to execute him unless Japanese troops were withdrawn According to Channel NewsAsia, the killing renewed domestic pressure on Prime Minister Koizumi to bring the contingent home9

One Japanese private security guard, Akihiko Saito, was killed in an ambush on his convoy on May 25, 200510


A Komatsu LAV on display with Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group markings during a public exhibition Note the shield on top of the vehicle to protect standing JGSDF soldiers from gunfire at all sides

Analysts differ as to the political ramifications of the deployment One view is that it represents the emergence of Japan as a close military ally of the United States, strategically positioned as a counterweight to China's growing regional power This position asserts that the Iraq deployment offers a constitutional model for future overseas deployment in circumvention of Article 911 Another interpretation is that the deployment is entirely symbolic as it comes at little financial or human cost to the Koizumi administration, has a negligible effect on the strategic situation in Iraq, and is simply aimed at maintaining positive relations with the US so as to perpetuate a favorable economic relationship12

At the height of the deployment, on September 19, 2005, a senior Defense Agency official succinctly gave his opinion on the future prospects for overseas Japanese military deployments, drawing on his opinion of the Iraq mission: "It isn’t worth it" Analysts said that the restrictive rules of engagement and reliance on the constant protection of others effectively renders meaningful Japanese participation in international operations impossible for the foreseeable future13

One opposition member had said that the JIRSG deployment "wouldn't be a problem if it really were for humanitarian reasons But it is first and foremost a show of support to the US The US invaded Iraq without a UN resolution, and Japan is now aiding in that act"14


Iraqi children shake hands with JGSDF soldiers during a reconstruction operation

Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, the city of Samawah has continuously been a relatively stable city, in what is probably the most peaceful and sparsely populated province of non-Kurdish Iraq

The first elements of the contingent arrived in Kuwait on January 9 and January 17, 2004, after an advance team from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces JASDF assessed the security situation in Samawah in late December 2003 and to Kuwait for the arrival of other JSDF forces to Iraq15 The first JGSDF troops arrived at the Dutch military base in Samawah on January 19

Prime Minister Koizumi decided on December 8, 2005 to renew the contingent's mandate for another year,16 despite a poll by the Asahi newspaper which found that 69% of respondents were against renewing the mandate, up from 55% in January A total of nine JIRSG scheduled rotations took place between 2004 and 200617

Protection for the unit was provided primarily by Australian troops,218 as the Japanese soldiers were prohibited from engaging Iraqi guerrillas unless they came under fire19 However, a small number of Japanese Special Forces Group, Western Army Infantry Regiment, and 1st Airborne Brigade personnel were deployed to provide protection Mortars and rockets were lobbed at the Japanese camp several times, causing no damage or injuries


Although Defense Agency officials initially denied a report that the JSDF would be withdrawing from Iraq, they eventually confirmed that the contingent would leave Iraq by March 2006 Officials, however, subsequently insisted that any withdrawal would hinge on the ability of the Iraqis to form a new government by the end of 2006 A united Iraqi government was established in May 2006, and Koizumi subsequently announced that forces could be withdrawn as early as the end of July given the completion of the mission

Koizumi announced on June 20, 2006, that the Japanese contingent would be withdrawn within 'several dozen days', however he suggested expanding airborne logistical support from southern parts of the country to Baghdad in place of the ground force20

On June 25, the first batch of the 600-member contingent began to withdraw from Samawah to Kuwait21 The last 220 troops left Iraq by July 1821 And the JIRSG base in Samawah was planned to be the new headquarters of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Division of the Iraqi Army

Although all Japanese soldiers have left Iraq, JASDF forces continue to play a minor support role As of November 2006, JASDF transport aircraft were assisting coalition forces by airlifting materials and personnel between Iraq and Kuwait The airlift mission was extended until July 31, 2007,22 at which point it was extended again for another two years23 As of November 26, 2008, 6711 tons of supplies have been transported since March 200424

On April 17, 2008, Nagoya High Court ruled that dispatch of troops was partly unconstitutional25

Due to rising anti-Iraq war sentiment from the opposition, the Japanese government announced that its JASDF forces in Kuwait would withdraw soon,2627 though it was announced that the withdrawal was due to the improving security situation and the nearing expiration of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1790, which allowed multinational forces to stay in Iraq until December 200828 The last JASDF forces left Kuwait on December 18, 200829


  • Formerly Lieutenant Colonel Colonel Masahisa Sato – Commander of advance JGSDF forces January 16, 2004 – February 27, 2004
  • Colonel Koichiro Bansho – 2nd Commander of JGSDF forces February 27, 2004 – May 26, 2004
  • Colonel Yuki Imaura – 3rd Commander of JGSDF forces May 26, 2004 – 
  • Colonel Masato Taura – 4th Commander of JGSDF forces

Unit Deploymentsedit

Contingent Deployment
1st Contingent February 3 – May 26, 2004
2nd Contingent May 27 – August 29, 2004
3rd Contingent August 30 – December 5, 2004
4th Contingent August 30, 2004 – February 27, 2005
5th Contingent February 28 – May 27, 2005
6th Contingent May 28 – August 22, 2005
7th Contingent August 23 – November 11, 2005
8th Contingent November 12, 2005 – February 17, 2006
9th Contingent February 18 – May 25, 2006
10th Contingent May 26 – July 16, 2006

See alsoedit

  • Multinational force in Iraq
  • Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–present
  • Al Muthanna Task Group
  • Overwatch Battle Group West
  • Dancon/Irak
  • Zaytun Division


  1. ^ 1
  2. ^ a b Fresh troops for southern Iraq Retrieved on December 5, 2008
  3. ^ Australia Deploys More Troops to Iraq Retrieved on December 4, 2008
  4. ^ Prime Minister Koizumi Encourages Japan Ground Self-Defense Force JGSDF to be Dispatched to Iraq Retrieved on January 27, 2008
  5. ^ "USATODAYcom - Two Japanese diplomats killed in Iraq" Retrieved 8 April 2017 
  6. ^ "Japanese hostage trio freed in Iraq - The Japan Times Online" Retrieved 8 April 2017 
  7. ^ USATODAYcom – Two remaining Japanese hostages freed in Iraq
  8. ^ "USATODAYcom - Al-Zarqawi's group warns Japan to withdraw troops" Retrieved 8 April 2017 
  9. ^ Shosei Koda was the first Japanese killed in Iraq – PravdaRu
  10. ^ Iraq Coalition Casualties: Contractor Fatalities
  11. ^ Christopher W Hughes, Japan's Re-emergence as a 'Normal' Military Power Oxford University Press, 2004
  12. ^ Eric Heginbotham and Richard J Samuels, "Japan's Dual Hedge," Foreign Affairs, Vol 81, No 5 September/October, 2002, pp 110–121
  13. ^ "The American Enterprise Institute - AEI" Retrieved 8 April 2017 
  14. ^ Asia Enters the Fray, Page 3 Retrieved on January 27, 2008
  15. ^ Prime Minister Encourages Japan Air Self-Defense Force JASDF to be Dispatched to Iraq Retrieved on January 27, 2008
  16. ^ "Xinhua - English" Retrieved 8 April 2017 
  17. ^ Robert Catley and David Mosler, The American Challenge: The World Resists US Liberalism Ashgate Publishing, 2007, 148
  18. ^ MINISTER VISITS TROOPS IN AL MUTHANNA PROVINCE Retrieved on December 4, 2008
  19. ^ Japan: A Liberal, Nationalistic Defense Transformation Retrieved on April 3, 2007
  20. ^ "Japanese Forces Begin Iraq Pullout" Retrieved 8 April 2017 
  21. ^ a b Japan Begins Withdrawal from Iraq Retrieved on April 1, 2007
  22. ^ Japan to extend air mission in Iraq until next July
  23. ^ 2-year extension for airlift operations in Iraq approved
  24. ^ Results of Transport Activities by the Iraq Reconstruction Assistance by the dispatched Air Transport Squadron
  25. ^ Court says Japan's Iraq operation unconstitutional Reuters, April 17, 2008; Major ruling on SDF's Iraq mission The Japan Times, April 20, 2008; The Nagoya High Court Decision on Japanese Forces in Iraq Craig Martin, April 24, 2008; the court's decision in Japanese Google translation
  26. ^ Japan to end Iraq mission in 2009 Retrieved on October 6, 2008
  27. ^ Japan may withdraw military from Iraq Retrieved on October 6, 2008
  28. ^ Japan to end Iraq mission Retrieved on October 6, 2008
  29. ^ "BBC NEWS - Asia-Pacific - Japan ends five-year Iraq mission" Retrieved 8 April 2017 

External linksedit

  • Japanese Ministry of Defense's Iraq Page in Japanese

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Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group Information about

Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group

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